Observing that the Centre had sufficient prima facie materials, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refrained from staying the government’s poll-eve decision to include Jats in the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in nine states.
The decision by the UPA-II government was seen as an attempt to appease the community, which has strong social and political clout in western Uttar Pradesh and its bordering areas of Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan besides also being present in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
A Bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam however asked the government to place on record a comprehensive affidavit detailing the reasons to add Jats in the list. The court also said that any decision on providing reservation benefits shall be subjected to its final order on a batch of petitions, some of which favour the inclusion and others oppose it.
Pursuant to the court order last week, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had placed before the bench entire records.
The court had on the last occasion said that the “matter is serious”and that the court would like to “peruse the files containing the materials to know whether there was application of mind or not”.
The notification included Jat community in OBC list in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan (two districts of Bharatpur and Dholpur), Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti, an organisation of members of communities which are included in the Central List of Backward Classes, had alleged that it was an “outrageous notification” issued in haste with “vote bank politics” in mind.
“Before the election, a largesse is given by political party in power to purchase votes,” Venugopal submitted and contended the Union government had “illegally and arbitrarily” ignored National Commission for Backward Classes’ (NCBC) advice against inclusion of the Jat community in the OBC list.
Later, few other petitions defending the decision were filed by the Jats group.